Sunday, April 01, 2012

Norman Golb on the Decline of Qumranology (1) (Published 7 December 2011)

A. Erroneous claims about Judaism and Jewish history

In his article Golb quotes a 'panel' at the 2000 Chicago Field Museum: "that the Roman domination of Judea":
'eventually led to an uprising by the Jewish population and that the ensuing years of struggle culminated in 70 CE, when the Romans sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Second Temple'."
Golb continues: "What is missing here is any specific reference to the sixth-month siege of the city and its inhabitants that preceded its sacking."

Golb and the writers of the Museum 'panel' are relying on the writings attributed to Josephus, Golb in particular when he speaks of "the Roman domination of Judea".  In all of the above, there can only be one archaeological fact.  The Temple was ransacked for its gold. It was then set on fire and destroyed.  The former must have come first.  This would have taken a considerable time, peeling all the gold off the sanctuary doors for example. Josephus says the temple was set on fire and then pillaged. This cannot have been the case. Much of the gold would have melted and disappeared into the ruins. The ransacking of the temple before its burning implies that the Romans were then already in full control of the city. Golb's next statement refers to a six-month siege of the city, as do the writings attributed to Josephus.  But there is no archaeological evidence of a siege.  There are no Roman camps, as there are at Machaerus and Masada.

"But for Caesar, he excused himself before God as to this matter and said that he had proposed peace and liberty to the Jews......that they had begun , to burn down that temple with their own hands which we have preserved hitherto;" (War 6.3.5)  This was the height of hypocrisy on the part of Vespasian's Flavian historians.  It was four years before in 66-67 that Nero had granted peace and liberty to the Jews. An inscription in Greek records the fact: "Other leaders have liberated cities, only Nero a province". This was announced by Nero on the 28th November 67 CE at the Isthmian games. (see page 140 of Rome and Jerusalem, Martin Goodman).  Goodman says, according to the Flavian writer Plutarch (50-120 CE), Nero had said that Greece would be free from Roman administration and taxation.  Never! All the other provinces would have rioted.  This was a Flavian cover-up. Plutarch was lying. The inscription is incomplete.  It speaks of liberation.  This implies war. In 67 CE, Nero had come from Judea after destroying the priests, including Ananus the executioner of James.  He announced his victory at the games.  The inscription also says it was a province that was liberated, implying a country.  

Vespasian's Flavian historians were correct about one thing. Nero had left the temple untouched. He had granted the Jews peace and liberty.  Martin Goodman, poor man, just cannot see through the situation, despite writing (see page 19): "Documents in Hebrew and Aramaic drawn up during this period of independence and discovered over the past fifty years in caves in Wadi Murrabba'at in the Judean desert, set out in some detail the terms of land sales between 67 and 69 in expectation of a settled future.  The dating formulas follow a similar pattern in each document; 'the fourteenth of Elul, year two to the redemption of Israel in Jerusalem'; ' on the twenty-first of Tishri, year four to the redemption of Israel in Jerusalem'; 'On the.... day of Marheshvan, year three to the freedom of Jerusalem' ".  Goodman cannot put two and two together; the Greek inscription which contains no reference to Greece, and the land sale documents.

The so-called siege of Jerusalem with a famine, and destruction of the temple was a fanciful, lurid account created by Flavian historians as a cover for Vespasian's shameful rise to power using Jewish gold.  (See War 6:3-10).  Vespasian never started his war in Galilee. He never went there.  There is absolutely no archaeological evidence of first century Roman camps in Galilee. At the time the temple was ransacked, the Jews were at peace, and there was a Roman garrison in Jerusalem left behind by Nero.  Vespasian's war was a fabrication of Flavian historians.  After the deaths of Nero, Galba, Otho and Vitellius, he simply commanded the occupation of the temple to steal its gold. That didn't mean that no-one was killed or taken prisoner for his 'triumph'. The prophets that Nero had liberated, now became Vespasian's enemies. 

In his article on Page 142 of in Judea and Rome in Coins, David Hendin shows the front and back of a coin of Vitellius (Fig. 26: Vitellius bronze - depicting the Jewish victory).  Hendin says that the Judea capta series of coins was Rome's victorious response to the Jewish war.  He further implies that Vitellius took advantage of his months in office to use the war for his propaganda.  Hendin thinks that with Vespasian supposedly running the show, the Romans were bound to win.  But Nero had already won the war four/five years previously, which wasn't the sort of war that Josephus describes.  Vitellius was simply starting the propaganda which Vespasian continued.  As Vitellius was the last emperor in the 'year of the four emperors', one can safely say that the 'war' had been over five years before Vitellius came up with the idea of issuing Judea Capta coins.   

And how Goodman could write the following (see page18) (speaking in a biased manner of: 'the revolutionary government',  'the rebels', 'early on in the conflict', 'the revolt', 'the authorities in Jerusalem')  and not see that the four/five year period of the so-called revolt was really a time of peace, beats me:
"The best evidence of the political ethos of the revolutionary government in Jerusalem can be gauged from the plentiful coinage they produced.  It suggests a state proud of its independence and national freedom: although the rebels had access to Roman coinage, including the most valuable denominations (the aurei made of gold), they began to mint early in the conflict silver coinage of shekels and fractions of shekels and their own distinctive bronze small change.  The silver content of the rather thick coins they produced was exceptionally pure.  The legends on all the coins were in Hebrew rather than in Greek or Aramaic, the two languages most commonly found on inscriptions in Jerusalem in this period, and the palaeo-Hebrew script used was archaic, unfamiliar to most first-century Jews but redolent of antiquity. the slogans selected by the minting authorities - 'Freedom of Zion', 'For the redemption of Zion', 'Shekel of Israel' - proclaimed a political entity variously identified as Jerusalem or Israel, or on the bronze coins from the second to the fourth year of the revolt, as Zion. There was in general a remarkable degree of variation in types over the five year period of the revolt: in particular, a chalice (referring to the Temple service) and a palm branch and citron, as carried in the celebration of the festival of Tabernacles, were frequently reproduced.  It is clear that the authorities in Jerusalem believed themselves to be living in an independent and distinctive Jewish state centred on the temple, for which the catchwords were 'freedom' and 'holiness'.  The coins contain no image reminiscent in any way of Rome, even in emulation or antagonistic opposition. The regular record on the coins of the progress of the new era ('Year One', 'Year Two', and so on) proclaimed a self-consciously new state, with a self-consciously new name: not 'Judah', which was too close to Judaea (the Roman name for the province), but 'Israel'."

The calmness shown by these so-called rebels over four/five years is supposed to have been while Vespasian was breathing down their necks. How come they had access to Roman gold coinage?  Why would they mint so many coins at a time of so-called war?  Why was there no image on the coins of antagonism towards Rome?  Was it because they felt no antagonism. Why did they remember the feast of Tabernacles on their coins? Why the symbols of the chalice, the palm branch, and the citron?  And more pointedly, why is there no symbol of sacrifice?

So, Mark Goodacre and James Mcgrath, who were these people who wanted to worship God in such a free, joyful manner?  In Italy, they were known by the latin CHRISTIANOS, or the anointed ones, as the inscription found at Pompeii attests.  They worshipped God in Spirit. The feast of Tabernacles, known as The Feast, celebrated the time when the Spirit came.  At Tabernacles, they slept outdoors in tents made from branches so that they could peer through them and see the stars being moved by the Spirit (as the earth rotated).  The palm branches were waived on entry to the Temple to symbolise movement of the Spirit, and its imminent arrival.  The chalice was used to pour out water into the ground, symbolic of the Spirit being poured out. The citron was symbolic of the fruits of the Spirit.  Sacrifice was no longer necessary.  People simply had to obey the Spirit.  They came to an abrupt end under Vespasian.  On page 19 of Rome and Jerusalem, Martin Goodman has, tongue-in-cheek: "It seems at this time, if not earlier, that the Christians of Jerusalem abandoned the city, 'commanded by an oracle given by revelation before the war to those in the city who were worthy of it' (so, two and a half centuries later, wrote Eusebius, historian of the Church)".  The reality was' they were taken to Rome for Vespasian's 'triumph', about 800 of them.  His 'triumph' was similar to the one he created for Claudius's so-called victories in Britain, misclaimed.

What Historical Event Was the Crucial Evidence for the Mass Removal of Scrolls from Jerusalem? 

Golb attributes the mass removal of scrolls from the city to either the siege that was expected or to the siege while it occurred.  He wrote: "What is missing here (in the Chicago Field Museum panel) is any specific reference to the six month siege of the city.  That actual historical event provides crucial evidence supporting the theory that the scrolls were removed from Jerusalem libraries and hidden away in caves before or during the siege."  There was no seige. In 66, the Romans under Nero were secretly let into Jerusalem.  The scrolls had been removed before, but not because of any siege.  So what was going-on immediately before Nero's arrival?  And what was not going-on?

Martin Goodman states on page 11 of Rome and Jerusalem,  "In May 66 CE, on 16 Iyyar, the Roman Governor of Judea, Gessius Florus, who had been appointed to his post some two years earlier by the emperor Nero, let loose his troops onto the upper market in Jerusalem with instructions to kill all they met. The description of the ensuing mayhem, written just a few years later by Josephus is chilling:"  The description is of the unsolicited brutality of the Roman troops under a Governor appointed by Nero. Goodman's gullibility is revealed.  This was Roman propaganda at its extreme to paint a picture of Nero's appointed Governor killing women and children.  Gessius Florus never was Governor of Judea. And this was an issue in which Romans were not involved.  The  killing was by the priests, led by Ananus, who were persecuting the prophets and their families. The upper market was the place where the prophets lived with their women and children, and where they sold their produce.  They were agriculturalists.  On page 12 of Rome and Jerusalem, Goodman admits: "In the first months of the ensuing conflict in Jerusalem the Romans were not directly involved. Factional strife within the Jewish population led to heavy loss of life".  What does Goodman mean by 'factional strife' that caused one group to kill the wives and children of another. He doesn't bother to say what the 'factional strife' is about.

A clue is on page 12 of Rome and Jerusalem, immediately before the above quote, where Goodman has: "As Jerusalemites polarized between a peace party and a war party, the captain of the Temple, a priest named Eleazar, described by Josephus as a 'very daring youth', forced the issue by persuading those officiating in the Temple to refuse any further gifts or sacrifices brought by a foreigner.  'This action', wrote Josephus, 'laid the foundation of the war with the Romans', for it required an end to the longstanding custom of demonstrating loyalty by offering sacrifices in the Temple on behalf of the emperor and Rome".  Goodman has contradicted himself.  According to him, the issue was supposed to be nothing to do with Romans.  Goodman says, "the Romans were not directly involved".  So what was it all about?  It was about sacrifice.  Those in charge of the Temple were refusing to sacrifice because they worshipped the Spirit of God.  This was a completely civil dispute. The prophets were in charge of the temple, and their defenceless women and children had been butchered in the upper market area by the priests.   The priests had previously been kicked out of the Temple and were in 'Damascus' so to speak, living in 'exile' in every village and town.  In their view, they had separated themselves and rejected the new Temple worship.  This was the situation exactly as described in the scrolls (see 4QMMT).   The priests wanted to restore the temple worship with sacrifice.  This was what the 'factional strife' was all about. The Flavian historians were lying.  Eleazar may have been the priests military chief, but he was no officially appointed captain of the temple guard.  

And who was Eleazar - if not the son of the executed Caiaphus, Barabbas? (See my Article on Caiaphus: )  This son of the father, a rebel and murderer, had been imprisoned along with some others by Aristobulus I.

Given this animosity between priests and prophets, what was the event that caused the priests to take their scrolls to the Judean desert and the caves near Qumran?  The prophets had barricaded themselves in the temple.  A few months before the Roman's arrival under Nero in 66, the priests had attacked Agrippa I's archives, where he had kept their manuscripts under lock and key.  After they had taken all their manuscripts out, they set fire to the archives.  They then had nowhere to store a vast quantity of manuscripts.  They knew the Romans were coming, so they took the manuscripts out to the Judean desert to store them in caves.  There was no great panic as has been implied.  This was a fairly systematic, and orderly transfer which would have taken a considerable time.  It was not a case of smuggling the manuscripts out through tunnels, under the noses of the Romans.  The basis of the account is the garbled story recorded in War 2.17.6.